Natural Causes

The “hand of God” is an active presence in CSI:D files. To be sure, the Almighty took no part in the suicides and homicides; those were the work of men “not having God Before [their] Eyes But moved by the instigation of the Devil.” Deaths that could be traced to what we would call ‘natural causes,’ however, were typically deemed an ‘act of God,’ a ‘visitation by God,’ or the ‘dispensation of Providence.’

Such cases expand on the point made in the introduction that coroners' inquests paint a very particular portrait of death in the nineteenth-century South. The stock and trade of the coroner's office were sudden deaths, especially those that intruded upon the public view. An old man succumbing to slow cancer in his own home was unsuspicious and unlikely to be investigated. This explains why heart attacks and strokes (which they called apoplexy) figure more prominently than fever among the ‘hand of God’ cases in these files. It also explains the relative frequency of deaths that occurred out-of-doors. Daniel Brown died in his cotton field; Jane Laniere died “in the woods near the public road”; Hartwell Roper “fell dead ... at his plow.”

The words ‘Hand of God’ were also used in cases where the deceased had been struck by lightning. (In perhaps the strangest case, Broderick Mason and his enslaved girl, Cinthy, were killed by the same lightning bolt, a sure sign that God does not play favorites.) Despite the similarity in terminology, however, lightning deaths have been filed as accidents because, like cave ins and train crashes, they are cases of people simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time and however ‘natural’ they might seem they are not a ‘natural death.’

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Natural Causes Inquests

Displaying 1 - 50 of 573
Name Deceased Description Date Inquest Location Death Methodsort descending Inquest Finding
Charley Gainey November 18, 1903 at T.C. Williams', Chesterfield County, SC

the said Charley Gainey diseased came to his death from heart failure

Rachel Dullivan January 30, 1890 at Rachel Dullivan Residence, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Rachel Dullivan came to her death from natural cause (Heart disease).

Maria Seawright grandma January 11, 1882 at the farm of A. W. McDavids, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Maria Seawright came to her death from a natural cause by an act of Providence

Ann Eliza Loid June 29, 1891 at William Loid's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths Do say that Said Lizar Loid came to her Death from Heart Disease By falling on the floor on the 28th June 1891

James W. Steene August 22, 1898 at the Residence of Deceased James W. Steene, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say...we find that The deceased came to his death from Heart Falure

Nancy Johnson June 11, 1906 at Whitfield Johnson, Chesterfield County, SC

AND so the said Jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say that the aforesaid Nancy Johnson came to her death from natural causes

Sally Foster April 14, 1876 at Flora[?] Manwell[?], Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Sally Foster died of Epileptic Convulsion or as is more commonly called Fitts

Lona May Hamilton child October 18, 1893 at or near Longmires PO[?], Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that she said Lona May Hamilton came to death. . .on the plantation of J.A. Deale. . .by accidental suffication

Lizzie Greeg July 4, 1884 at Capt Taliar[?] Hearin[?], Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths aforesaid do say that the aforesaid Lizzie Greeg Came to her death from natural Causes

Adam Eubanks April 19, 1894 at the residence of the deceased, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Adam Eubanks died from natural causes on the night of the 18th April 1894 at his residence

Clarence Rodgers at the [?] Quarter[?], Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased Clarence Rodgers, came to his death from congestion of the lungs at the Residence of Hanibal Willis[.]

Eva Lyons February 9, 1880 at Greenville, Greenville County, SC

upon their oaths do say that. . . the Dec'd came to her death from Laranges[?] Tracheitis or inflamation of the wind pipe.

John Crosley January 11, 1838 at of John W Sartor[?], Union County, SC

do say upon there othes that the said John Crosley . . .died by the visitation of god in a natural way by getting choked or strangled and not otherwise

John Saylor August 6, 1870 at or near the Ridge road near E. R. Cobb's residence, Anderson County, SC

do say that said John Saylor. . .died we think and believe from some disease of the heart or an appoplectic [apoplectic] fit.

Matilda Hall June 28, 1880 at residence of deceased on plantation of C.S. Brice, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the said Matilda Hall came to her death by heart disease,-the act of Almighty God.

Julia Rice June 27, 1887 at Clough Rice's, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that in our opinion the deceased came to her death from some natural cause, probably heart disease

Infant of Pearl Oliver Infant of Pearl Oliver December 26, 1894 at D. A. Redfearn's Place, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that the said Infant child came to its death from some natural cause unknown to them

Elsie Starks at N.C. Roberts' place, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the deceased came to her death from some cause uknown to the Jury between two & seven Oclock the 21st Jan 1883[.]

Betsey Wingo June 9, 1886 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the said Betsey Wingo came to her death by the rupture of an aneurism in the right subclavian artery

Sealy Henry July 1, 1873 Laurens County, SC

we the under named jurors do find in accordance with the opinion of Dr. S. S. Knight. By disease most probably epilepsy caused her death.

Infant of Diliar Harrell Infant of Diliar Harrell September 15, 1905 at Mr. Douglass's Mill, Chesterfield County, SC

so the said Jurors aforesaid, upon their oaths aforesaid, do say that the aforesaid child came to death by causes unknown to them.

Micjah Ward February 9, 1849 at the house of M. Ward, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that he came to his death by the visitation of God

W. F. DeBruhl April 20, 1859 at the late residence of W.F. DeBruhl, Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Wm. F. Debruhl came to his death by none other than a visition from God

Mary Champion November 10, 1870 at Camden, Camden, S.C., Kershaw County, SC

upon their oaths do say that [the] deceased came to her death by a visitation or the act of God

Jane Owens at Ms. Helen Smith's, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say She died from a paroxism of asthma

Nash Ferguson May 23, 1883 at Laurens court house, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the aforesaid Nash Ferguson came to his death on the 23d day of May AD 1883 in Laurens County from general condition of the brain and blood clots on the brain

Robert W. Kincade December 27, 1845 at the house of Baley[?] Corley, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that the said Robert W Kincde came to his death by a Stroke of Appoplexy in the house of Baley Corby

Bettie McConnell near Lyles Ford, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, "That Bettie McConnell in manner and form aforsaid, came to her death from by heart failure."

Unknown March 26, 1875 at the residence of Mr. John Murpheys, Fairfield County, SC

upon their oaths do Say that the death of the Child was the Act of God

Mary Jane Johnson child September 25, 1856 at Sarah [?] house, Union County, SC

upon their oaths do say that they believe . . .that it Came to its by the visitation of God

William L. Collins January 9, 1887 at Chesterfield County, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

William McLure December 7, 1844 at or near the plantation of John Gage, Union County, SC

do say that the said William McLure . . .was found lying dead near a small path leading from Union Ville to the plantation of John Gage . . .we therefore do believe that he died from some providential cause to us unknown

Elisha Farless[?] September 15, 1847 at Robert Youngers Mill house, Fairfield County, SC

do say upon their oaths that the siad Elisha Farleys[?] died on the 14th[?] instant past at or in the Mill house of Robert Yongers[?] was found dead that he had no markes of violence appearing on his body and died by the visitation of God in a natural way

Edward Fuller July 30, 1880 at Spartanburg C.H., Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that the said Edw. O Fuller ... came to his death from conjestion of the brain or other natural cause

Theatus or Theater Williams August 21, 1926 at Mt. Croghan, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: Theates Williams came to his Death from Hart Farlery

Isaac Greer December 29, 1879 at Vernonville, Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths do say that he came to his death by cause or causes unknown to them but in their opinion it was an act of God

Abram slave October 8, 1860 at the Residence of H. B. Raborns, Edgefield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that. . .the said Abram a slave of H Gallman. . .came to his death by some internal deseased unknown

Shelt Gainey February 17, 1929 [no location given], Chesterfield County, SC

We Find du Explannation and Testimony frm Witnesses and Doctor that Deceased Shelt Gainy came to his Death from Natural Cause, Heart Trouble and Accut Indigestion from eating Fresh Pork for his supper

Harriet Hill May 27, 1884 Spartanburg County, SC

upon their oaths aforesaid do say that the aforesaid Harriet Hill ... came to her death the hand of God

Chaney negro woman December 11, 1855 at the dwelling house of Mrs Randall in the Town of Hamburg, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say, that Chaney, the woman now lying dead before them came to her death by the Visitation of God

Mittie Mitchell September 19, 1902 at Chesterfield County, South Carolina, Chesterfield County, SC

[No official declaration]

Kisiah Frazier December 17, 1893 at the plantation of T S Rainsforde, Edgefield County, SC

upon their oaths do say that Kisiah Frazier came to her death from natural causes. . .Rheumatic trouble of the heart

Alexander T. Johnson December 2, 1895 at the residence of M.J. Johnson, Chesterfield County, SC

upon there oaths do say that Alexander T Johnson deceast came to his death from or with Bodily Deyses

Cooper slave March 17, 1852 at the plantation of L.H. Mundy decd, Edgefield County, SC

where & when & by what means the Said Slave, Cooper came to his death By acute Gastro Duodinitis[?]

Henry Rush June 22, 1875 Spartanburg County, SC

return our verdict that the deceased, Henry Rush, died from an attack of epilepsy

Tephius[?] Cornwall January 14, 1845 on one of the Public Streets of the Town of Hamburg, Edgefield County, SC

Upon their oaths do say, that the decd Tephius[?] Cornwell came to his death as they believe by the visitation of God

Bird Yarbor December 20, 1903 at McBee, SC, Chesterfield County, SC

the deceased -- Bird Yarbor -- came to his death by heart failure or some natural cause.

Marisley Malone September 23, 1890 at the residence. Mrs Fooshers, Laurens County, SC

upon their oaths do say that on the night of the 22nd day of Sept. AD 1890, at the House of Mrs. Foosher in Laurens County, that the said Marilsey Malone came to her death by the Act of God.

William A. Jordan December 12, 1891 at William M. Jordan's, Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that Said Infant came to his death from Some causes or causes to the Jury unknown

Angeline Allen February 27, 1899 at A.L. Sims', Chesterfield County, SC

upon their oaths, do say: that we are convinced that the above Angeline Allen came to her death from natural causes

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